Over 250 runners lined up for the 28th annual Shut In Ridge Trail Race last weekend. It’s one of the oldest, toughest, and truest trail races in the mountains, climbing 18 miles on singletrack to the foot on Mount Pisgah. While many other trail races have become blinged-out by mainstream madness, Shut In has remained the quintessential, low-frills, trail-focused race. It attracts both elites and beginners to its rocky, twisting, leaf-covered trails every fall, and for a few hours, the Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks are crowded not only with leaf-peepers but with support crews and cheering fans.
The race parallels the Parkway for most of its climb; this year, due to the wet weather from Hurricane Sandy, portions of the Parkway were closed, forcing the race director to add an extra mile to the end of the race. Finishers descended from the heinous climb to the Mount Pisgah Overlook onto the Parkway for a final mile of pavement before finishing at the Pisgah Inn. The longer race could be a prelude of things to come; Shut-In’s future remains uncertain.
One thing is for sure: it remains the most beloved, beautiful, and burly trail race in Southern Appalachia. Don’t believe me? Check out this three-minute video from this year’s race made by Zane Jackson, son of Shut-In finisher Mike Jackson.
Congratulations to this year’s Shut-In winners—Scott Williams and Emily Chaney—and all of the other runners who reached for their best this weekend.